If we as a country and society are to be truly inclusive, believe in equality and fairness, then the need to ensure that men and boys’ wellbeing is fully part of this conversation is vital. The last month has thrown up a number of issues where there are clearly issues to address in this area which are currently met with very little attention or recognition.
New rough sleeping figures were announced by the government with a welcome fall, but 85% of those are men. No mention in media coverage. Covid deaths by gender for those of working age showed nearly two-thirds of these deaths (64.4%) were men losing their lives. The government finished a consultation on crimes such as sexual violence and domestic abuse which classes male victims of these crimes as being crimes against a woman or girl.
‘BOYS ARE BEHIND GIRLS AT EVERY LEVEL OF EDUCATION’
It doesn’t stop there of course. Three in four suicides are male, boys are behind girls at every level of education and 12,000 men die of prostate cancer every year. There is very little discussion about these issues either.
Over the past 10 years, rather than rely on the authorities to take up issues regarding men and boys’ wellbeing, a range of grass root charities led by men and women have sprung up and gathered extra impetus. They range from the large organisations such as Prostate Cancer UK and CALM, to a range of smaller organisations covering specialist areas. These include the one I chair on domestic abuse (ManKind Initiative), Survivors Manchester, Lads Needs Dads and Future Men, amongst many others.
A number of umbrella organisations, too such as the Male Survivors Partnership, Male Domestic Abuse Network, Movember, Men and Boys Coalition and, of course, the huge and increasing success of International Men’s Day in the UK. I have helped set up and help run the latter two.
Having been brought up in a working class family (my dad was a van driver) in South East London and lucky enough to get a place at a University, when no one round my way did, it has always both fascinated and disturbed me, how gender assumptions are made that get applied to all. Society and reality is far more complex with the whole range of interconnected issues such as class, race, sexuality and age.
As someone who has been in the field of diversity and inclusion for 15 years, I ask, how we can create a society that recognises the wellbeing issues that men and boys face and at the same time, recognise those that women and girls face, too? There should be no competition or zero sum game. We all share society together and should care about the wellbeing of each other.